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Video and Printer Driver Updates: How to apply them to improve Terrain Navigator

When Terrain Navigator Pro behaves erratically, or does not print properly, updated drivers are often required.


A "driver" is a special piece of software that acts as a bridge between the operating system (such as Windows) and a hardware device (such as the video display or a printer.) System drivers allow products from various different manufacturers to interface with each other. This is why you can have a computer made by Dell, running an operating system made by Microsoft, viewed on a monitor made by Samsung (interfaced via a video card made by ATI), and connected to a printer made by HP.

As you can imagine from the above illustration (which is not an uncommon configuration) getting all of these devices to run seamlessly together is quite challenging. However, device drivers make it all possible.

How do faulty drivers affect Terrain Navigator Pro?

Quite often, a faulty video display driver will cause Terrain Navigator Pro to "stop responding" while it is operating. It can also cause the screen to not display properly, not work in 3-D mode, or many other unexpected behaviors. Also, because of the intense operations needed to print, a faulty video driver can slow down the print functions - and even cause the final page to not print properly.

Faulty printer drivers usually cause the printed page to not appear to match the preview presented in the print preview. However, they can also cause Terrain Navigator Pro to stop responding during printing, or when the Print (or Print Setup) options are chosen.

I just purchased my computer (or printer). Shouldn't it have included the latest drivers?

Unfortunately, more often than not, the drivers included with new computers or printers are not the latest available. This is because the products sold are often warehoused in inventory for several months, while the drivers remain under constant development and review. Moreover, the "disk image" used to manufacturer a new PC is often out-of-date, since updating a disk image is a tricky and time consuming process for the manufacturer.

Thus, virtually every manufacturer of a hardware device has a mechanism on their web site to download and distribute updated drivers. In most cases, these updates are very simple to locate and install.

My computer technician doesn't think my problem is with the driver. Also, I am not seeing this issue with other applications. Wouldn't it seem that if it were a driver issue, all of the software on my PC would be behaving inappropriately?

It might be best if I turned this question around.

If Terrain Navigator Pro was behaving erratically on the desktops of our thousands of customers, we would be swamped with emails, phone calls, and dissatisfied customers. While it is possible that issues within the Terrain Navigator Pro software slip through our development and quality assurance procedures (hey, we are human), it is much more likely that if the software is terminating unexpectedly, or not producing the desired results on your particular computer, then the issue is probably a bit more isolated.

In fact, it is usually the case that a driver update will correct odd behaviors with Terrain Navigator Pro. Since Terrain Navigator Pro is very intensive in its printing and video usage (more so than most Windows applications) it tends to exercise the printer and video drivers in ways that differ from other applications. Thus, it is highly likely that other applications can behave normally, while Terrain Navigator Pro has an incompatibility with a particular driver.

How do I determine my video card manufacturer and model?

• Open the Device Manager. In most modern versions of Windows right-click on the Start/Windows button and choose 'Device Manager'.
• In the Device Manager window, open the item labeled 'Display adapters'.
• Double-click the desired device, opening the General tab.
The manufacturer and model will be displayed.

NOTE: The display adapter may indicate '(Microsoft Corporation - WDDM)' or something similar. This indicates that the driver currently in use is from Microsoft. Microsoft provides drivers from some devices, but it is generally better to use the drivers provided directly from the manufacturer. (Microsoft does not manufacture video display cards.)

How do I download and install updated drivers?

Once you know the manufacturer of the device (for Printers, the manufacturer and model number is usually prominently displayed; for video display adapters, use the procedure outlined above or check with your computer manufacturer) you can visit that manufacturer's web site to download the driver.

It is usually easiest to use an Internet search engine (such as Google or Bing) to locate the manufacturer's web page. For example, suppose you were looking for a driver for an NVIDIA Quadro FX 540 video display adapter (as discovered using the above procedure.) In this case, NVIDIA is the manufacturer. Google NVIDIA to link to their web site (be careful that it is the manufacturer's actual site.) Right on the U.S. home page is a 'Download Drivers' link. Select the correct Product, Operating System (in use on your PC) etc. and… look there's an update from just a few weeks ago!

Once you have located the driver on the web site, press the Download (or similar) button. In most cases, you will be prompted to 'Run' or 'Save' your download. We recommend Saving the download to the Desktop. When the download completes, close the Internet browser and run the downloaded file by double-clicking its desktop icon.

Note that the above directions are general. It would be impossible to document exactly how to download and install every possible driver. However, most manufacturers want their customers using the latest drivers… so they generally try to make it as simple as possible. Read each screen carefully and even a novice computer user can usually figure it out. (If not, contact a more proficient computer person, or our technical support team, for assistance.)

Besides video display adapters and printers, what other drivers interface with Terrain Navigator Pro?

Some GPSs use unit-specific drivers. These can usually be download from the GPS manufacturer's web site. You may also find updated 'system software', which is internal programming that is found inside the GPS. Both updates can often correct issues with GPS connectivity.

Older GPSs often require a USB to Serial adapter to connect the 9-pin serial plug on the older GPS to a newer PC that only has USB ports. These USB to Serial adapters also require drivers. For updates, visit the web site of the manufacturer of the USB to Serial adapter. Not running the most current driver could affect GPS connectivity.

Sometimes updated drivers or firmware are needed to resolve compatibility with CD/DVD drives. As with video drivers, you can use the Device Manager to determine the manufacturer and model. Then, visit their web site to download and update the latest drivers and/or firmware for the drive.

Additional Notes:

• Finding Drivers:
If you are unable to find suitable drivers at your video card manufacturer's web site, try the web site of your computer manufacturer. Computer manufacturers often distribute the latest drivers for components of their computer systems. This is especially common on laptop computers that use integrated video displays manufactured by Intel.

You should never have to purchase drivers, or provide unreasonable registration information. If you are, you are probably not on the manufacturer's web site.

• "Uncertified" drivers:
Video card manufacturers often distribute additional drivers classified as "uncertified," "unsupported," "special purpose," or "beta" drivers. These drivers may not have received the same extensive quality-assurance testing as the company’s retail/generic drivers. It’s also a common practice to provide beta versions of drivers that may still undergo some modifications before their official release.

Generally speaking, these are drivers that the manufacturer makes available for you to use if you like, but the manufacturer cannot offer technical support for their use. If you decide to try such a driver and find that it causes display problems, you can follow the manufacturer’s instructions to uninstall the driver and install the generic, supported driver instead. It is up to you to decide what drivers to install. Read all information provided before downloading any drivers.

• OpenGL vs. Direct X:
There are two types of generic 3-D rendering methods available for use by graphics programs: OpenGL and DirectX. Terrain Navigator Pro uses the OpenGL rendering model to create 3-D View. Therefore, if given a choice, download the driver that supports OpenGL rendering.

This technical document contains references to many different manufactures and products. These may be subject to trademark by their respective owners. Mention of specific brands, manufacturers, or products in this document are for illustrative purposes only, and do not represent an endorsement, recommendation, or criticism by the authors of this article.

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